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Re: Forwarding bugs upstream

John Goerzen <jgoerzen@complete.org> writes:

> Now, here's how it proceeds if I have to forward a bug upstream for
> Bacula, which uses Mantis.  Creating a Mantis account takes 30
> seconds

I don't know Brian's position on this, but “time to create an account
with arbitrary upstream BTS” isn't the issue.

“Having an account on a new service which in all likelihood will be
unused by me after very few messages” is the main concern; growing
numbers of unused site accounts are either a management hassle, or a
foolish security hole, or both.

> but Mantis won't email reports to people without accounts, and the
> only way to add stuff to it is on the web.

That sucks. It seems like a problem that is best addressed upstream, by
using a better BTS that can communicate via email.

I don't necessarily think that advocating for a better BTS needs to be
solely the job of the Debian package maintainer though; I'm merely
identifying explicitly where I see the cause of the hassle in that case.

> I'm adding zero value here. Zero. It is a huge and frustrating waste
> of my time.

Not in my view. I appreciate the Debian package maintainer acting in the
interest of “lower the barrier for each Debian user of this package to
report useful bug information”.

To be clear: Thank you for the time you spend doing this, and the same
to any other Debian maintainer who does unromantic work to keep the
good information flowing.

> It is also frustrating for upstream, who would rather just talk with
> the user directly and involve me if they think there's a
> Debian-specific question.

Hopefully that motivation can, in some cases if not all, be used to help
the upstream see that their chosen BTS is an impediment (as described

> I don't understand why some users want it to go this way, but many
> clearly do despite the fact that they get worse service.

Quite the opposite, from my position. A great feature of the Debian BTS
is that any user can interact with it through a standard interface
without maintaining multiple separate identities; heck, without having
to create a single new identity at all.

Having to create and maintain (or fail to maintain) identities with
balkanised upstream BTSen is bad enough as a package maintainer. As a
mere user of all the other packages on my computers, I consider it too
high a barrier.

> I'm going to be brutally honest and admit here that being a copy and
> paste monkey between emails and web forms is something I really
> dislike doing. It is something that makes Debian the opposite of
> enjoyable, and I think I let those tasks sit longer than I should, and
> work on things instead where I can actually contribute (such as fixing
> Debian bugs).

I can appreciate that, and I feel the same way when I'm in that position
as a maintainer. You're certainly not alone.

> I think that promising that Debian maintainers will always shepherd
> bugs upstream is promising something we don't actually deliver on very
> well, and probably never have. Perhaps we should stop promising it.

I think the situation is certainly sub-optimal. But surely the solution
is not to expect Debian users to take on the work; that seems worse in
every way. At the least, the increased barrier that would result can't
help but dramatically reduce the number of upstream bug reports that get
useful information from Debian users.

Rather, we should be using the discomfort of all parties described to
press actively for a better solution to the problem for everyone.

It's not a problem that can reasonably be expected to be solved once and
for all, at least not while upstream developers are free to pick
arbitrary bad BTS software. But that doesn't mean efforts to improve the
situation at its source are futile.

 \      “If we have to give up either religion or education, we should |
  `\              give up education.” —William Jennings Bryan, 1923-01 |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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